Some Interesting Minor League Free Agent Pitchers

Here's the thing about the minor league free agents list. You can spend literally an hour just checking out every name and tracing the prospect genesis of the ones you recognize and it never gets old. There's also a cognitive filter where any semi-interesting player gains a mention on the "Ooh I want!" list. Once promised pitchers will undoubtedly figure things out and hitters will either engage a girl with the last name Luck or invoke on a journey that begins with this:

Scene: Back alley of an abandoned warehouse

A man with a trench coat and extended black case raps on the door amidst the raspy coughing of a stray cat encountering a fur ball.

The warehouse door swings open with an abrupt thud and quickly the man scatters inside. Indoors, the case is handed to the new man while a stack of dollars is bagged and placed within the trench coat. The mystery man places the case on the table and undoes the latches, opening the case and removing shackles before revealing a fine wooden black baseball bat with an orange 25 engraved into the barrel.

Lifting the bat into the moonlight the new owner gasped ‘Gee willickers!" as he took an effortless practice cut or three and could feel the power surge through his veins. The trench coat man begins to make his way out of the door once again but stops at the door to administer a warning, "Look kid, this is the last one, make it last, okay?"

"Yes...yes sir. Good golly thanks a ton mister."

With that in mind, I've compiled a list of mildly intriguing relievers. The idea here is not to land a closer in his prime, but instead find an arm or two who can contribute when injuries and ineffective pitching hit the Rays pen. For this exercise I'm working with the assumption that these guys would take the standard minor league deal and would not require a 40 man roster spot.

Winston Abreu

Striking out nearly a third of the total batters you face indicates you do something well. Holding such a proportion when the sample size is closing in on 1,250 is remarkable. He throws hard. He seems to have a decent secondary offering.  In 44 Major League innings Abreu's contact rate is superior (72.1%) to league average (around 81%) and his issues are rooted almost entirely in home runs allowed. That issue does not show up throughout his minor league career and 44 innings is a tiny sample size stretched over four seasons. He received some shine last season to the tune of 128 pitches and was horrendous but for someone who took fewer dollars to return to the system after being designated for assignment by Cleveland, you have to think he's a lock for next year. A spring training invite is hardly a pyrrhic victory for the Rays.

Wes Littleton

The meaningful statistics on Littleton: 102 innings pitched, 59.6% grounders, a strikeout rate essentially equal to the career of Lance Cormier, and a better walk rate to boot. Split last year between Boston and Milwaukee and saw wacky walk rates throughout. Whether that was due to an injury is unbeknownst to me. Was drafted by Texas in 2003 which, I believe, overlaps with Matt Arnold's time in Arlington. Sits in the upper-80s and uses a slider and change effectively against both hands. Worst case: a potential replacement for Chad Bradford's groundhog-thumping ways. Ehren Wasserman, Shane Loux, and Ryan Speier would also make sense in that role.

Scott Patterson

The second of the chichi minor league lifers whom fan infatuation arises naturally like grass. Pitching baseballs is like everything else in the sense that entertainment and enjoyment derived is quickly decreased once money becomes involved.  Whether it's writing, telling jokes, or playing baseball, doing it just to make the next rent or car payment takes its toll. Back to Patterson. In the last few seasons he's split time between New York, San Diego, and Oakland.  He holds a 10 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in Triple-A through nearly 115 innings and yet has a handful of appearances in the majors to show for it. His walk rate went berserk this year and his fastball doesn't make love to the radar guns.

Marcus McBeth

A former outfield prospect with the Athletics, McBeth spent last season with the Red Sox and saw timei n the majors with the Reds in 2007. He's a fastball pitcher with a decent fastball and supposedly good change. His whiff rates have been impressive throughout the minors.

Andrew Brown

Spent nearly 90 innings in the majors and wasn't poor but missed all of 2009 with a slight labrum tear and rotator cuff damage. Status for 2010: beats me.  

That's enough from me, which names pique your interest?

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